Holly Wong: Emergence and Stephanie Leitch: Spellbound
August 4–October 16, 2023
Ogden Contemporary Arts
Ogden Contemporary Arts presents two exhibitions featuring artists whose work is centered around large-scale installations made from non-traditional materials. Holly Wong: Emergence and Stephanie Leitch: Spell Field opened during Ogden’s First Friday Art Stroll on August 4, and will remain on view through October 16, 2023.
While distinct in style and subject, the two exhibitions have correlating concepts with site-specific work that responds to its environment and appeals to viewer engagement. Both women use artmaking as an outlet for overcoming personal struggles or processing past trauma; meditative or meticulous processes allow for an intentional release of emotion, contributing to the final work’s powerful presence and spellbinding visuals.
Holly Wong, whose exhibition will be featured in OCA’s main-level galleries, is a San Francisco-based artist whose work aims to reclaim the female body and bear witness to the spirit. Her fiber-based installations memorialize her mother, who was a victim of domestic and sexual violence, as well as the artist’s own experience with mental illness related to self-harm and body-related trauma. As a whole, her work’s weightlessness and ephemeral quality represent an emergence from this pain with acceptance and celebration. “A major throughline in the work is the wound or scar, and the power of taking back the night by healing that scar,” says the artist. “To me, creating works of beauty in brokenness is my highest form of resistance.”
Stephanie Leitch, whose exhibition is featured in OCA’s second-level studios, is a Salt Lake City–based artist whose work consists of large-scale installations and small-scale “spells” that utilize handwritten media and repetitive processes to imbue a specific intention. These unique “spellworks” typically consist of encoded typography and can have a meditative effect on the creator and viewer, as they were initially developed as a fruitful outlet for the artist’s OCD or a tool for processing emotional trauma.
“This curation exemplifies the mission and impact of Ogden Contemporary Arts in many ways,” says executive director Venessa Castagnoli. “It features a visiting artist who will be engaging with our local community through youth workshops and an artist talk, while uplifting a local Utah artist who was the recipient of OCA’s Choice Award in the recent Statewide Annual Exhibition. It’s also a collaboration with a local curator and was made possible by the support of our incredible donors and members.”
Both Emergence and Spell Field are guest curated by Kelly Carper, an independent curator, art consultant, and writer based in Ogden. She says, “I was drawn to Holly’s work not only for its visual impact and skillful artistry, but because it is an inspiration for women to claim their strength while embracing the power of femininity. Her show title encapsulates her experience, as the term Emergence is defined as the process of coming into view after being concealed…of coming into being, which I think is incredibly powerful.”